The Davis Drive rapidway opens this Sunday!

November 27th, 2015

The Davis Drive rapidway opens this Sunday!

The rapidway along Davis Drive from Yonge Street to the 404 opens for service Sunday.  Viva yellow will start rolling down Davis Drive at 6:52 am, starting at the 404 park and ride lot and travelling westbound, and then every 15 minutes after that!

We excited to launch the service as well as all the amenities that go with it – the wide, pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined boulevards and sleek, modern vivastations, as well as the dedicated centre lanes that will allow riders to enjoy faster and more consistent travel.  New vivastations will open at Parkside/Longford, Main Street, and South Lake Hospital.

Vivastations will be directly accessible from crosswalks at signalled intersections. Pedestrian signals come with an audible tone and visual countdown as additional safety features.

The stations will include arched glass canopies inspired by transportation architecture from historic and modern European examples. The 27-metre glass canopy will offer passengers protection from the elements, and include a nine-metre enclosed and heated waiting area. At the stations, you can enjoy all the existing Viva technologies you love: off-board fare collection, real-time arrivals information, Presto payment and new card readers. Safety and accessibility features include textured surfaces near platform edges, level boarding from the platform to the bus, a public address system for updating riders, security cameras and an emergency call button.

Once the rapidway opens on Sunday, drivers need to be aware of how the street has changed as they make turns on Davis Drive. Red asphalt indicates a bus only lane, so drive with care. Emergency vehicles are permitted to access the rapidways should they need to, but they will have their flashing lights on for safety.

In just a few short days the wait will be over, and we can all celebrate the end of construction and the beginning of rapid transit in Newmarket!

countdown to handover

November 24th, 2015

countdown to handover

Taking advantage of every sunny day in Newmarket to advance the work on the Davis Drive rapidway, our teams are working hard to finish all sorts of little details. With much of the construction complete, we’re now focused on testing and adding final touches, to get ready for Viva service, which we call “handover”.

Handover means just what it says – it’s the moment in time when the transit system is handed over to its owner for care and custody, which of course is YRT/Viva. Before handover, the system is the responsibility of the Contractor/Design Builder. Once handover takes place, legal ownership and responsibility is transferred to the owner, and the system becomes the owner’s private property. At this time, the Contractor/Design Builder’s warranty period begins, just the way it happens when a homebuyer takes possession of a new house.

In the case of vivaNext, some elements of the Davis Drive project, like the rapidway, vivastations, sidewalks and planters, will be transferred to the Region. Others, like the sidewalks and streetlights will be transferred to the Town of Newmarket to maintain.

Because the formal handover is such a significant development, especially on a major infrastructure project like the vivaNext rapidway, it’s important to ensure that everything is in perfect working order. The various steps involved in opening for service vary. Here are some examples:

  • Fare equipment is tested to ensure the ticket vending machine [TVM] prints properly.
  • Traffic signals are programmed and permanent signals are turned on. Each phase is then tested individually, and all the push buttons are tested to make sure they work.
  • Streetlights are inspected to ensure all the wiring is according to the drawings, the bases are level and the power connections are all correct. The teams go out at night and actually turn on the lights to ensure that all the lamps come on and nothing is flickering. Lighting is an important safety feature for both pedestrians and vehicles.

During testing every single detail of the rapidway is inspected through a visual walk-down. Then a list of the things that still need to be finished or perfected is created with items graded from most serious to least serious. These items will be fixed either prior to the system opening or post opening under the warranty.

Although we are officially handing over the Davis Drive rapidway to York Region, YRT, and the Town of Newmarket, in many ways we are handing it over to you – at the end of the day, the ultimate owners of the rapidways are the public of York Region. VivaNext wants to provide a reliable, efficient rapid transit system and beautiful streetscape for our valuable transit customers. With every new piece of rapidway delivered, we are building a better system that we can all be proud of.

accessible stations >> everyone is welcome

November 19th, 2015

accessible stations >> everyone is welcome

With the Davis Drive rapidway opening for service soon, we want everyone to feel welcome, and to find it an easy, convenient experience. Whether they have mobility issues or other physical limitations, are pushing a baby stroller, bringing their bike, or pulling a shopping buggy, we want everyone to feel that this transit service is for them.

We consulted with the CNIB and York Region’s Accessibility Committee during the design process, so our vivastations meet local and Provincial accessibility requirements. We also took into consideration our aging population, who appreciate being able to get around easily without a car. So we designed stations for everyone to use, and included these features:

  • Heated, enclosed areas in the centre of the vivastation with doors on each end and a wheelchair-turning radius inside. Radiant heaters are temperature and motion-activated.
  • Benches in the heated enclosure and outside under the glass canopy. Benches are wood, which doesn’t get as cold as metal in the winter, and they have grab bars for those who would like a little support getting up and down.
  • Fare payment machines that are easy to use, with screens that are angled for people of different heights, and have clear, bright graphics and large buttons.
  • Informative digital screens [Variable Message Sign or VMS] installed overhead in the centre of each canopy showing when the next bus will arrive, and arrival times are ‘real-time’ which means they’re updated constantly, based on the location of each bus.
  • Even platforms without trip hazards or changes to grade, and handrails and shallow inclines on the pedestrian ramps approaching platforms.
  • Tactile surfaces on station platforms, including textured tiles in a contrasting colour at the platform edge and directional tiles where the bus stops – helpful for those with impaired vision.
  • Public Address system that can be heard clearly from one end of the station to the other.
  • Illuminated map boards to make it easy for everyone to plan their route.

Vivastations are designed for all transit riders – including those who just haven’t used Viva before. Since this is the first east-west Viva route in Newmarket, it might be unfamiliar to some, but rest assured that it will be easy and comfortable to get onboard Viva on Davis Drive. In the first few weeks, Viva staff will be there in person to answer questions, and after that the website and their call centre [toll free: 1-866-668-3978] will help everyone make their connections. From one end of Newmarket to the other, and to other transit like Viva, YRT and GO Transit – it’s about connections, made with comfort and convenience.


Davis Drive happenings

November 17th, 2015

Davis Drive happenings

With fall winding down and the imminent opening of the rapidway, it’s a good time to reflect on some of the activities that have taken place in Newmarket during the year. Not surprisingly, Newmarket residents have played a big part, participating in the events held on Davis Drive.

construction walking tours

This summer, we had a series of walking tours hosted by your Community Liaison team. We had great weather and attendance at each session, with people coming from far and wide to learn more about the intent of the project and the progress we had made, and to enjoy a $10 voucher for a local restaurant on Davis.

Tour participants learned about the features of the rapidway, some of the changes that drivers, transit riders and pedestrians will see. They also were given an introduction to York Region’s vision and growth strategy for Davis Drive.

#mydavisdrive selfie contest

Another great initiative was our #mydavisdrive selfie contest. Business support is a big part of the rapidway project, as we know that long-term construction can be disruptive for business owners. To encourage people to rekindle their love of shopping and dining on Davis, with the help of the Town of Newmarket and Chamber of Commerce, we put together a fun and easy contest to enter and win!

Over the span of five weeks, we had almost 200 entries from people who chose to stop, shop and dine on Davis Drive, supporting the businesses that are the life of the community. With random draws, we gave away five weekly $100 prizes and three grand prizes of $500, $750 and $1,000 Davis Drive shopping sprees.

Thank you to everyone who took part in the tours and the contest for supporting Davis Drive through one of the busiest construction seasons in Newmarket.  Your patience and support has been much appreciated and we look forward to the end of construction season. See you on the rapidway this winter!


destination: Davis Drive

November 13th, 2015

destination: Davis Drive

In Newmarket, Davis Drive and Yonge Street are where many will choose to work, live, commute, shop and dine in the future. To set the stage for this, the new sidewalks along the Davis Drive rapidway have been built to be visually appealing and welcoming, as well as functional. Tree-lined sidewalks with attractive landscaping are part of the new streetscape design being built in York Region. Streetscape sets the appearance and ‘feel’ or character of a street, and this is connected to the overall experience. It also creates a distinct sense of place, identifying the area as a welcoming destination.

The new pedestrian spaces feel wide and separated from the traffic, and are separated into three zones: pedestrian zone, furnishing zone and transition zone. The pedestrian zone is paved with light-coloured pavers near intersections, and coloured accent bands – red for east-west and dark grey for north-south. The paving patterns stay consistent across driveways to remind drivers that pedestrians have the right of way.

The furnishing zone is where all the tree and shrub planters are located, and is paved in light coloured pavers. The transition zone is smaller, running between the planters and the road, acting as an extra buffer from traffic, and a place for snow storage in winter. This zone uses “eco-pavers” that allow water to seep through to the storm sewer system.

We’ve taken special measures to ensure Davis Drive is safe and welcoming to everyone, and the new streetscape will help make it a vibrant and memorable place, where people want to gather.


vivastations >> built for comfort and safety

November 11th, 2015

vivastation safety and comfort

We’ve taken every possible step to make the vivastations on the new Davis Drive rapidway feel like a safe haven, especially considering the stations are located in the middle of a busy roadway.

While you wait for transit, you can take comfort in the fact that you are well protected from the elements and adjacent traffic, and able to get help easily if you need it.

safety starts with design

The new vivastations include a variety of safety features, and are designed with transparency and good lighting in mind – two key principles of CPTED [Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design]. Stations have a concrete barrier wall along the traffic side, and a steel and glass guardrail beyond the glass canopy. The glass is impact-resistant with an interior film that prevents shattering [similar to a windshield] and provides UV sun protection.

call buttons are crucial

In the case of an emergency, an Emergency Call Button is clearly marked inside the glass enclosure. Its speaker provides immediate two-way contact between the caller and YRT operators. Call audio is recorded and time-stamped, as is the video automatically captured by the closest of three security cameras when the button is pushed. When the button is pushed, blue strobe lights on the Variable Message Sign [VMS] and the button are triggered to indicate to passing emergency services that assistance is needed, and transit staff will dispatch emergency services if needed.

safety is personal too

As much as we’ve designed vivastations to be safe, safety is also in the hands of those driving and walking on Davis Drive. While many drivers are now accustomed to making U-turns, but for others, it’s new. Drivers and pedestrians should both stay alert, and keep an eye out for one another, especially in intersections – and especially in fall and winter when daylight is in short supply.

two-stage crossings have rest spots

Because intersections were widened, a two-stage crossing at crosswalks is recommended for pedestrians. There are waiting areas in the middle of the crosswalk, where pedestrians can press the “walk” button and wait for the next signal.

Safety features are one of those things that are only top of mind when they’re needed. We hope that you always keep them in mind. That way you can rest assured that your rapidway trip will be a safe haven.

testing, testing, 1-2-3

November 4th, 2015

Testing for the new rapidway along Davis Drive

Have you recently travelled along Davis Drive from Yonge Street to Roxborough? It’s looking great! We’re very close to making the new bus rapid transit services available to you. What lies ahead is testing.

The testing stage – known in the construction world as commissioning – is critically important to ensure that all parts of the rapidway are ready for active service.

Here’s what’s involved


In the case of vivaNext, commissioning involves reviewing every part of the rapidway system, including structural components and the overall communications network, to ensure that they are working the way that we’ve designed them to.

Intelligent Transportation Systems [ITS]

ITS is an international transportation-engineering discipline that aims to make all kinds of travel more efficient. You may not be able to see it, but ITS technology is a critical component of the vivaNext rapid transit project.

In general, ITS ensures that traffic corridors are designed as one coordinated system, which includes the physical roadway’s design, lane markings and signs, traffic signal design and timing, and the brains that connect all these pieces. On the vivaNext rapid transit corridors, ITS plays another role too – integrating the rapid transit system into the overall traffic corridor system.

communications network

The communications network includes the fare collection equipment; the station information systems such as variable message signs [VMS], clocks and public address [PA] systems; the passenger security elements such as closed circuit TV systems and emergency call buttons; and the traffic signals at intersections. It also includes the sophisticated Transit Vehicle Detection system, which informs traffic signals when rapid transit vehicles are approaching intersections. Finally, the overall communications network includes the fibre optic network that links all of its components.

testing, testing, testing

Testing starts at the factory, where the fabricator verifies that the equipment works as intended. Each component is then tested again when it’s installed. After this, a series of additional tests are carried out to confirm that the entire system is integrated properly and working together.

The final step involves testing the reliability and function of the system, including simulating actual operation using buses, and staff who act as passengers. This gives the people who will be involved in the future operation, maintenance and service of the rapidway an opportunity to become familiar with it.

Even though you can see construction is coming along, there’s still testing, testing, and more testing to be done before the Davis Drive rapidway opens in December. All this testing is important though; it will ensure that rapid transit on Davis Drive is as safe and efficient as possible.

lights, sound… Viva!

October 30th, 2015

lights, sound... Viva!


Safety has been top priority in designing the rapidway, vivastations, and the surrounding streetscape. Streetlights are one of the most important safety elements, and their design contributes significantly to the overall streetscape. While developing lighting designs, vivaNext works with York Region, the local Municipality and the Utility companies to coordinate, design and install the lights, ensuring they provide both safety and visual appeal.

There are strict national and local standards on how street lighting needs to be designed, including how much lighting is required for different conditions. For example, different criteria are used to determine the necessary lighting levels for roadways, intersections and sidewalks. These include variables such as pole height, spacing and “lux,” which is the amount of light that a fixture provides.

Once the lighting standards are established, lighting design helps achieve the desired streetscape “look.”  In the case of vivaNext, the streetscape design is modern, stylish and uncluttered, helping the corridors feel like urban destinations, distinctive from other roads.

To keep with the uncluttered look on Davis Drive, special hydro poles were installed that don’t require guy wires and can have streetlights installed. The luminaires [light heads/fixtures] on the streetlights have a light sensor to automatically turn on and off, and the bulbs only need to be replaced every 4 years.



Have you ever found yourself straining to hear a quiet, garbled message from a public address system? It’s frustrating, especially when that message is important to your commute. At our vivastations, we want to be sure you won’t face this frustration, so our engineers have worked hard to design the public address [PA] system. Having audio at stations is also part of keeping Viva accessible for all users.

We conducted a sound analysis study, to determine how the shape of our vivastations would affect the way sound moves around inside the stations, and way it would reflect off the concrete wall, floor and glass. As it turned out, 12 speakers outside the passenger enclosure and another three speakers inside does the trick.

The next challenge was to work on the volume of the speakers.  The problem with PA systems in noisy places is that ambient noise can overwhelm the volume of the PA system, making it impossible to hear what’s being said.  Our solution is to use a speaker volume system that automatically adjusts when its sensors detect an increase or decrease in ambient noise.

There are two sensors on each new Viva platform. These allow PA announcements to be audible whether there’s a bus idling in the station and trucks are moving past, or it’s nighttime and quiet. This type of speaker volume system ensures that messages can always be heard, but won’t be intrusive.



Once the rapidway opens on Davis Drive, you’ll be able to travel faster, and see and hear clearly when the next Viva vehicle is coming. What could be better than that?


bringing a rapid transit plan to life

October 23rd, 2015

bringing a rapid transit plan to life

Crews are finishing up paving on Davis Drive, which means we’re getting closer to opening the rapidway. As much as we’re looking forward to celebrating this milestone, it’s important to know that this is only one [very exciting] step in a plan for a connected transit system.

Over the past few years there’s been a lot of media coverage of transit needs across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area [GTHA]. We’re proud that York Region is actively working to meet those needs by bringing rapid transit to our region. In 2002, the Region produced the York Region Transportation Master Plan and the follow-up Rapid Transit Plan, committing the Region to a blueprint of multiple transportation initiatives to be built over the next 30 years.

With the Rapid Transit Plan approved, we got to work. In 2005 the Viva team launched “QuickStart,” the first phase of Viva service, offering enhanced features that made transit more comfortable and convenient, and put the customer first. With this service upgrade, Viva changed the way people in York Region thought of transit. The public appreciated the enhanced features and frequencies, and it wasn’t long before ridership began increasing steadily.

But while “QuickStart” was a major success and an important first step in encouraging people to try transit, designing the vivaNext rapid transit system was the Region’s long-term vision. Ontario municipalities are mandated to plan sustainable, more intensive land-use as part of the provincial government policy, and rapid transit is a key component in achieving that goal.  Anticipating this, the York Region Transportation Master Plan directed that future growth in York Region would be concentrated in new downtown urban centres in Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill and Vaughan. By building more intensively in these areas there would be less pressure for growth in other neighbourhoods.

The urban centres would be connected by transportation “corridors,” making it easier for people to get around the region, and providing transportation options with regular transit service. The vivaNext rapidways are currently being built along these corridors, creating connections across York Region and into the rest of the GTHA.

Much of the new development around vivastations is compact and mixed-use, providing housing, employment, retail, dining, services and recreation – all within walking distance of transit. Developments include welcoming public spaces, attractive landscaping and other amenities that contribute to the centres becoming dynamic destinations.

Our vision for the future is well on its way to becoming reality: a rapidway has been built on Highway 7 East; Davis Drive is opening soon; the first section of rapidway in Vaughan will open on Highway 7 West in 2016; the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension is under construction; utility work is underway for the Yonge Street rapidway north of Highway 7, and design work continues for the planned Yonge Subway Extension.

So when the rapidway on Davis Drive opens for service this winter, we can celebrate the progress of transit infrastructure in York Region, not to mention the end of major construction!


signs of progress: staff and operator training has begun

October 22nd, 2015

signs of progress: staff and operator training has begun

We’re really counting down the days to the opening of the vivaNext rapidway service on Davis Drive from Yonge Street to Roxborough, and we bet you are too! You’ll know we’re in the final stages of construction once you see Viva buses out on the new rapidway.

Starting today, we will be doing systems testing on the new Davis Drive rapidway, in the Town of Newmarket, followed by driver training in November.

Training will be provided not only for Viva bus operators, but also for everyone who will need to be familiar with the rapidways, the stations and the equipment. Viva vehicles will be out on Davis Drive, taking customer service staff and other YRT/Viva staff along the rapidways to test and familiarize them with the new setup. Regular YRT transit service will continue to pick up passengers at curbside stops until testing and training is completed, and paving is fully finished. Signs directing passengers will be posted at the curbside stops.

Operator training will run from 7am to as late as 9pm on some nights, seven days per week.  During this time you can expect to see Viva buses driving up and down the rapidway, stopping at the vivastations. The training will focus on entering and exiting the rapidway, with an emphasis on safely merging back into mixed traffic past Yonge Street and Roxborough.

Operator training will also focus on the new transit signals at intersections, which will display a single green arrow for Viva buses. This signal will be clearly marked as transit only, but Viva operators will be trained to be cautious and on the lookout to make sure members of the driving public are following the signals correctly and not turning into the rapidway lanes.

The trainees are all experienced Viva operators, so they know the route and the vehicle. They’re really excited to get going!